The Walking Disaster

Eight years ago Tracey pushed out the last of our six kids and we both breathed a sigh of relief.

This was it. No more. We were done.

We were done with all-hours feedings, the odd bout of mastitis, burping, explosive poos, pumpkin stains in the carpet, banana stains in the carpet, shit stains in the carpet, chasing two-legged disasters, translating gibberish, potty training, teething, tired tantrums and hiding knives & putting things on top of cabinets then worrying about sharp edges & things falling.

After twenty years we we were finally free to live our lives on the back of more than three hours sleep. It was a sweet moment.

Then, six years ago, Tracey again pushed out the last of our six seven kids and we both breathed a sigh of relief that this time, for sure, the vasectomy would stick and we could finally get some effing sleep before we died.

Parenting is hard. Some people make it look easy but those people can suck rotten eggs. I’ve always found it equal parts wonderful, joyous, hilarious, disgusting and frustrating.

And the thing is, despite clear leaps forward over the last hundred years with such things as indoor loos, disposable nappies, snot sucker-outerers, nappy wipes, toddler-leashes & Phenergan, I’m not convinced parenting is getting any easier. In fact, in some ways it’s worse.

Far, far worse.

One wonderful improvement I will sing the praises of right here is the ability to communicate in real time with loved ones who are on the other side of the country: something we’re particularly grateful for because only two years ago our eldest daughter had her own little bundle of joy & poop. Catching up on Skype is our favourite pastime these days, although it’s hard to get all seven of us in shot at the same time.

“Gandard!” squealed little Izzy when I pushed my way into frame.

I’ll note here I’m determined to stick with being Pop but he seems equally as stubborn to label me Grandad. The Devereaux is strong with this one.

The main topic today was to be Izzy’s favourite book which, after coming up in conversation caused the screen to become a series of blurred and jagged shots, appeared on his lap. He then proceeded to ‘read’ it to us and all seven of us made the right sort of noises to encourage page turning and lapped it up.

After ten minutes of chatting – and a further five of kissing the screen – we said we better go and asked him to tell his Mum and Dad we love them. On the screen we saw him pass the message on to his Mum and then…all hell broke loose.

“Izzy! Come here!” we heard his Mum shout, her voice becoming more panicked with every syllable.  “STOP! COME BACK!”

The screen in front of us gave no indication of what was going on, but we were yelling too now, worried he was running out of the house and onto the road, or maybe into the garage where my imagination superquickly assumed his Dad was playing with live electrical wires or hundreds of red belly blacks. We really had no idea, but this is the sort of thing you come up with when you’re horrified you’ve somehow set in motion something which could haunt you for the rest of your days.

Which, it turned out, was exactly what would have occurred had Miss23 not managed to catch up and get a hand to Izzy in time.

“What’s happened?!” Tracey asked for all of us. There was much anxiety this end of the call, with a couple of the little Aunties starting to cry in their panic.  “Is he alright?”

The images on the screen settled on our daughter’s face even as someone spoke offscreen.

“Hello,” came Izzy’s Dad’s cheerful, echoey voice.

“It’s okay,” Miss23 grinned sheepishly. “It’s just that Daddy’s in the shower.”

A See Change

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